Shadows and Stars

Shadows and Stars cover 2

Coming hopefully soon.

If you have been following my website, you know that I am finishing up my first novel: Shadows and Stars. This page will be a place where you can find information about it easily and quickly. I hope to keep it updated reasonably often, but I am rather erratic. Most of my updates will be as posts on the main page. Here I will put mostly background information instead of daily or weekly updates.

Shadows and Stars has taken about three years as of this writing on August 16, 2020.

Oddly enough, it started one Halloween after we had bought a large, plastic, liter-size, skull-shaped mug full of candy with the large handle (naturally) on the back of the skull. I looked at that one evening and wondered what if there were actually a people with handles on the backs of their heads. My wife gave me a blank book with the cover of the globe for my birthday or Christmas that year (I think). I kept my notes as I developed my ideas in that book until it was filled and then I started on using regular, cheap, spiral-bound notebooks, though I do use them most any time. A lot of times when I am in town and have an idea but no paper, I will pick up one of these, take it to a coffee shop and write down my ideas. Over the years, I have collected a few dozen of these partially filled notebooks.

I was living in Aztec, New Mexico at the time, which is about ten miles from Farmington. Farmington sits just outside the Navajo reservation and for decades has been probably the main trading town where the Navajo people sold blankets, turquoise/silver jewelry, and other wares. Some of my employees and coworkers were Navajo and I came to have a little knowledge of Navajo culture and its people. I have traveled around the world and have spent some time in 24 countries, but I have always had a particular fondness for the Navajo. Compared to other cultures I have encountered, they are a relatively quiet, affable people. Unfortunately, there are not many popular books or movies that even have a single Navajo character. In the movies I have seen recently, only Jurassic World has a single reference to the Navajo. In it, Claire Dearing, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, asks Owen Grady, played by Chris Pratt mentions something about someone Owen should be tracking to which Owen replies “Lady, I was in the Navy not the Navajo.”

Working late at night in an IHOP in Midland, Texas, May 2019 (photo by Francene Kilgore-Slattery)

I thought it would be interesting, therefore, to have a main character, a superintelligent scientist, be Navajo. I can think of no reason why this cannot be possible. Maybe it has already happened, but I’m not aware of it. Because I know very little about Navajo culture, I decided to give the character, Daryn Jacob (more on how the name developed at another time) a background in which he was separated from his culture at an early age, and his father, who had a disagreement with his father and a desire to leave the poverty of the reservation behind him, never instructed his son in the ways of the Navajo culture.

For the terrain on the alien planet, I used places where I have been, particularly in the Four Corner area, as my models.

From there, I have had to do a little studying in physics and astronomy (though I have had a fondness for astronomy for many years) and other areas to develop an alien world called Zaigosh. The development of that name is a bit of a long story in itself, so again I will postpone the details on that at a later date.

Anyway, these are my starting points for Shadows and Stars. I will try to continue working on this page as time allows.